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Varying interpretations of the Land Use Bylaw

Cut Red Tape


The Land Use Bylaw is a ‘discretionary’ bylaw which necessitates site-specific dialogues with respect to applicable rules. The dialogue is necessary in part due to the rules and regulations of discretionary uses (and the fact that sites vary from community to community).

Status: Completed

Changes made

The City of Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw was lengthened at the request of stakeholders to include comprehensive lists and detailed instructions within each district, to avoid complex charts. Long paragraphs and sentences commonly used in legal documents have been broken into sections and subsections so that readers can work through concepts more easily. Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw was moved online in July 2007, and includes hover text and other electronic tools to provide as much information related to the bylaw as possible. In 2007, Administration formed a Land use Bylaw Sustainment Team made up of land use planners and development technicians. This team identifies interpretation issues with the Land Use Bylaw and brings forward amendments to Council.

The Sustainment Team recently published a Guide to Contextual Dwellings (April 2013) a simple, hands-on on-line interpretive guide to constructing permitted use single and semi-detached dwelling within the Developed area of Calgary.  While The City recognizes general interpretations may aid citizens and industry in the application of the bylaw, publishing interpretations creates another level of documentation to review and comply with, due to the ‘discretionary’ nature of the bylaw. Vancouver is the only other municipality in Canada to release interpretations on Land Use, and The City of Calgary continues to be among the leading municipalities in Canada related to Land Use Bylaw best practices.

As a result of publishing the Guide to Contextual Dwellings, the quality and detail of Development Permit applications for Contextual Dwellings have improved resulting in fewer issues to be resolved and more compliance, allowing staff to provide industry with a quicker decision.


“The Advisory Bulletins have become an important communication tool for BILD-Calgary Region members.  When builders and designers are given the information they need to clearly understand what is expected, the entire system benefits. This leads to significant time savings, increased regulatory compliance and a more productive experience (both at the application stage and in the field) for all involved. This initiative has been a valuable addition to the existing processes and very well received by BILD-Calgary Region members.”       
  - Amie Blanchette, Director, Government Affairs,      BILD - Calgary Region